Take Him As You Find Him

By Janett Miller
By Isaac Harris
By Charlyn Valencia
By Chad Golden
By Bruce Riley
By Jonathan Cortina
By Kuruvilla (K.O.) Oommen
By John Dyer
By Abe Paul
By Jennifer Durrett
By Penny Jones
By Amy Owen
By Jill Asibelua
By Madi McGraw
By Jared Barnett
By Paul Martin
By Jeremy Varnell
By Norm Headlam
By Kristi Herring
By Alban Snider
By Sissy Mathew
By Oscar Camacho, Jr
By Shannon Pugh
By Al Palamara
By Don Robb
By Mike Pope
By Melanie Mechsner
By Kyla Mikusek
By Michelle Garza
By Armando Galvan
By Jeremiah Betron
By Camille Holland
By Rod Myers
By Shannon Lewis
By Chase Studdard
By Crystal Elwell
By Darcy Peterson
By Jason Elwell
By Amy Aupperlee
By Tiffany Stein
By Barry Jones
By Erin Hargrave
By Bryan Eck
By Tricia Kinsman
By Jason Stein
By Nat Pugh
By Sarah Kemper
By Dana Myers
By Craig Pierce
By Jim Woodward
By Lindsey Sobolik
By Scott McClellan
By Andy McQuitty
By Pete Hyndman
By Kevin Dial
By Sherene Joseph
By Earl Davidson
By Rebecca Perry
By Joe Padilla
By Christian Melendez
By Bruce Riley
By Isaac Harris
By Amy Leadabrand
By Ben Haile
By Shaun Robinson
By Natalie Franks
By Cathy Barnett
By Ryan Sanders
By Casey Pruet, The Grace Alliance
By Sharon Arrington
By Lauren Chapin
By Betsy Paul
By Alberto Negron
By Kelly Jarrell
By Michelle Mayes
By Jenn Wright
By Jill Jackson
By Terri Moore
By Robyn Wise
By Katherine Holloway
By Richard Ray
By Kurtlery Knight
By Bruce Hebel
By Neil Tomba
By Tony Bridwell
By Grayson McGovern
By Luke Donohoo
By Kathy Whitthorne
By Mike Moore
By Wade Raper
By Mike Gwartney
By Jo Saxton
By Dieula Previlon
By Jonathan Cude
By Ken Lawrence
By Jay Hohfeler
By Barb Haesecke
By Lindsay Casillas
By JoAnn Hummel
By Shawn Small
By Alice McQuitty
By Jonathan Murphy
By Peggy Norton
By Brent McKinney
By Irving Bible Church
By Irving Bible Church
By Ashley Tieperman
By Betsy Nichols
By Trey Grant
By Debbie Lucien
By Sue Edwards
By Suzie Robinson
By Paul Smith

Have you taken Jesus as you find him today?

The Christmas season swells with anticipation of a Big Day. It’s a grand-finale season, as steady marching-towards-a-climax season, a season of build-up. It has culmination — a baby wrapped in light — and I think culmination is something we   love because it means there’s a plot to things, an ending, like someone is in charge somewhere with a clipboard.

But life mostly feels un-culminated, like the boring parts of a novel. Like today, maybe.

Speaking of novels, the great novelist Leo Tolstoy wrote a short story entitled “Where Love Is, God Is,” which depicts the epitome of daily ordinariness. The story is about a humble cobbler who believes he’s heard that God will visit him the following day. The morning passes, and the cobbler is waiting for God to knock on his door, when he sees a friend outside shoveling snow. He invites him in for a warm drink. Later, through his tiny window, he observes a woman and her baby out in the street who are poorly dressed for the weather. He invites them in, gives them clothes, food and money. Later, he sees a boy try to steal money from an older lady. He intervenes and extends love and compassion to both. But God, as the cobbler expects him, never shows up. 

You can see where I’m headed with this. 

Today, likely, that long-term problem in your life will not be solved. Likely, today, you will not get that phone call that will validate all these years of waiting, or working, or wondering. Today, Jesus is probably outside your window wearing overalls, and he doesn’t have an answer for you. Yet. Will you take him as you find him?

I think we need to remember what the first Christmas really required of the people involved, because it surely didn’t feel like a culmination either. The first Christmas required everybody to accept mystery, to take God as they found him, not as they expected him to be. Mary delivers a son into the world — God? This baby, wailing from my body? And Joseph, leaning over, soothing the crying of his wife and son — this is God? And the shepherds in the field thunderstruck by the glory of angels descend on a cold manger scene they didn’t know was The Manger Scene, thinking — this is God? Lowlier than the very angels singing him down?

Christmas morning hasn’t always felt like a culmination or an answer. It was a cold, holy mystery. God on God’s terms. We accept the Baby Wrapped in Light so easily now, but do we accept the baby swaddled in dirty linen, the weird and mysterious ways God wants to bear himself out in our own lives today? How has God come incarnate to you today — in glory and revelation, or in the face of an elderly dad whose mind is far away? 

When I look around at the confusing, exhausting, mysterious people in my life, my first order of business should be to ask if God is inviting me to take him as is, embodied in those people. Even if that person is me, staring back at myself in a mirror. In Matthew 25, Jesus seems to suggest that he comes as these people on purpose — inconvenient, hard-to-recognize, confusing. But those who love him and know him, give him food when he is hungry, water when he is thirsty, and clothes when he is cold.

It’s hard to receive the given circumstances and people in our life as incarnations of Christ himself. To allow them to be what they are — and ultimately, really, to accept God as he is and how he wants to dwell with us as Emmanuel today. Maybe there’s a manger and a baby we never anticipated, but are invited to embrace. And maybe it looks like getting a cup of water for a child who’s been sick all night or being gentle with our own frenzied, bruised and tired selves.

O come, O come, little baby.  Ready us to take you as you are. Not tomorrow. Not on Christmas day, but on this holy day, this boring day.

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